PLATTSBURGH - Janet Duprey was elected to another term in the state Assembly on Tuesday, defeating her two opponents by a wide margin.
With all districts reporting, Duprey, a Republican from Peru, collected 19,132 votes. Her Democratic opponent, Rudy Johnson of Malone, received 8,007 votes while Conservative party challenger David Kimmel of Cadyville collected 5,149 votes.
A cheer went up from the crowd of Duprey supporters gathered at Bill McBride Subaru in Plattsburgh when the returns were announced. Duprey thanked her family and friends, and shared an emotional embrace with Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward of Willsboro, who stood side-by-side with Duprey throughout the night, watching the election returns online.
State Assemblywoman Janet Duprey raises her arm in victory after reading election returns Tuesday night at Bill McBride Subaru in Plattsburgh. Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward, right, is also pictured.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Knight)
"This is just what I thought would happen," Sayward said. "It's because Janet is honest. She cares about the people here in the North Country, and I think people know that. It's that simple."
Duprey's margin of victory came as somewhat of a surprise, even among her supporters. Some observers had speculated that Kimmel might play the role of spoiler, taking votes away from Duprey and potentially giving the race to Johnson. Before the polls closed, Clinton County Republican Chairman Donald Lee said he was expecting Duprey to win a tight race.
In the end, however, Kimmel wasn't a factor and Duprey won big, claiming almost 60 percent of the vote. She even beat Johnson in his home county, Franklin, by a more than two-to-one margin.
Duprey delivered a victory speech, flanked by her husband, children and grandchildren, describing the win as "a very clear justification that our message is right on track."
"This victory is about recognizing hard work, representing everyone equally, understanding the need to continue to vote against too much spending, borrowing taxing and fees," Duprey said. "It's about not always agreeing on every issue but understanding the value of sharing opinions and respecting each other."
Duprey described Johnson as a gentleman but had harsh words for Kimmel and his supporters, although she never mentioned him by name. The two candidates had clashed often during the campaign, most notably on the issue of gay marriage, which Duprey supports and Kimmel opposes.
"Tonight the North Country has said very clearly that a winning campaign and being qualified to serve in the Assembly is not about planting signs on every corner of the district," Duprey said. "It's not about a half-dozen people writing nasty, hateful letters every 30 days to the Press-Republican. It's not about screaming during a debate and distorting the facts afterwards. And it's not about prejudice and hateful messages.
"I truly believe this victory tonight is an affirmation of my personal honesty, integrity and willingness to stand for what I believe in. It is an affirmation against bullying, bigotry and intolerance. Above all else this victory is an affirmation that this North Country is absolutely the best place to live work and raise our families."
Kimmel, who watched the election results from his campaign headquarters on Latour Avenue in Plattsburgh, conceded that his campaign put up many signs, but otherwise he declined to respond to Duprey's comments.
"I said what I believed, fought a good fight and ran a clean campaign," Kimmel said. "Now we'll live with the results of the vote, and I'm going to focus on my business."
Johnson, who monitored the election results from his home, called to concede the race to Duprey around 10:45 p.m. Tuesday night.
"We ran a good campaign," Johnson said. "Obviously, we did not have the ability to get out the vote. (Duprey) was able to rally her supporters more."
Johnson said he hoped to benefit from a split among Republican voters between Duprey and Kimmel, but that didn't happen.
"We didn't get the split we had hoped for from David Kimmel," Johnson said. "He didn't pull as much from Janet Duprey."
Clinton County Democratic Party Chairman Marty Mannix said he was disappointed with the results.
"I thought both Rudy Johnson and David Kimmel would do better," Mannix said. "But you've got to give Janet Duprey her due. It was an extremely clean campaign (by) all three."
Duprey, in her victory speech, said she's ready to get back to work and named her priorities for her next term: Maintain existing jobs, encourage new businesses, improve infrastructure, and "have the compassion and concern to take care of those who really need our help."
Duprey was Clinton County treasurer for 20 years before being elected to the Assembly in 2006. She said this was her 14th election victory in 35 years.
"With the possible exception of the first victory in 1975, this is the most special victory for me personally and for my family," she said.
Enterprise staff writer Nathan Brown and Jonathan Monfiletto of the Malone Telegram contributed to this report.